Monday, March 29, 2010

What's your approach on burlesque which is less about the stripping and more about the performance art/theatre? (EG many queer, minority, political acts) Some love it, some think it shouldn't be considered burlesque at all!

This is a tough question to answer because it's really the start of a conversation, not just a QnA. But the short version is...I talk a little bit about identity politics in burlesque in my book, even though my book is a how-to and not at all a survey or history of burlesque. As a visible sex worker I've had people treat me with disregard and contempt, sometimes deliberately and sometimes unconsciously, and this informs some of my performances. I think that framing striptease, a "woman's art," as an art form, is powerful. Striptease was left behind when the burlesque circuit was shut down; the comedians and variety performers had the option of trying to make it in radio, film, and television, while the stripteasers were othered. However, I think it really hurts the development of this aspect of burlesque when performers use "having a cause" as an excuse to produce mediocre or sloppy numbers. I appreciate performance if it's confrontational but I do think it's a shame when it's overly literal, or when the execution isn't on a par with the concept. I'm not a fan of people "deconstructing" burlesque without really knowing how it's constructed. Theater is most moving and affective when it communicates through entertainment, which means to engage the audience rather than to pander to it. Passion for a cause isn't necessarily enough. Duende is in the details!

It's interesting to me when people who do political burlesque disregard it when women who did burlesque in the 40s and 50s don't like their reinterpretations of burlesque. Are we appropriating their art form? If so, how do we respond to that? And which ones do we respond to the most--the ones who hate it, or the ones who love it?

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

4 comments:

Tiara said...

Hi Jo! This was my question to you. I've provided a response at: http://burlesquedaily.blogspot.com/2010/03/what-your-approach-on-burlesque-which.html

Burlesque Daily said...

Hi Tiara--

Thanks! But that link is to this post.

Burlesque Daily said...

Hi Tiara--

Thanks! But that link is to this post.

Tiara said...

har, it is too! what's up with me.

here's the real link! http://blog.themerchgirl.net/post/491998059/daily-burlesque-whats-your-approach-on-burlesque

and here's a really interesting response from an outsider looking in: http://themarriageofadeadblogsing.tumblr.com/post/493185687/daily-burlesque-whats-your-approach-on-burlesque